A fellow edupreneur wanted to know what the pros and cons of joining a MCN (multi channel network) on YouTube would be. Though you might have never heard of MCNs, you have probably watched content from one of the big ones, nevertheless. There is Revision3, Machinima, TasteMade and a handful of others that usually specialize in one or two particular verticals like gaming, food or comedy.
The premise of the big MCNs is to support creators in the creation of video content on the one hand and get better advertising deals and show sponsors on the other. Sounds good, but won’t work in education.
Why MCNs can’t help you
Whereas there is no lack of advertisers in the tech, gaming and food space there is basically no one in education, hence not even the biggest MCN could find you a sponsor for your show. And if the big fishes can’t help you, the small ones can’t either. And there are also other problems with sub-par MCNs.
Those networks usually collect a large number of YouTube channels in order to get a certain number of potential ad displays. Say if you manage 100 smaller YouTube channels that have about 5000 views each per month you can bundle them to 500k views and sell them to an advertiser. This usually results in non related ads for education channels, and I would also be careful to give a third party access to my Google Adsense account which is usually part of the deal.
All in all, you are probably better off monetizing your videos through Google Adsense on your own and by trying to get a sponsor once you reached a certain viewership. At least as long as there is no specialized MCN in the education vertical.
Becoming a YouTube Partner
The biggest perk of becoming a YouTube Partner used to be the possibility to monetize your videos. Nowadays everybody can basically run ads against their videos from day one. I am not sure if Google is giving partners a better cut, probably not, and if they do it’s marginal.
Other features like choosing a custom thumbnail which can make your video more clickable in the list are also available to channels in good standing and with a certain amount of subscribers. Sure, there are still some more exclusive features like linking to your webpage from inside a video’s captions or adding a crowdfunding campaign, but all in all the hustle to become a YouTube partner is not worth it anymore, if you ask me.
Focus on the Audience
What you should focus on is building a loyal audience that will follow you around the Internet. As I suppose that most of you who are reading this want to monetize their community in one way or the other, it is crucial that your following is not tied to a particular platform but to your persona. The same is of course true for Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest or any other service you build a following on. Twitter is an exception to that rule as it is built upon the premise to find outbound links.
Again, the audience you build on YouTube should be trained from the beginning that there is more to you and your offerings than just your videos on YouTube. And as nice as high subscriber numbers or Facebook fans might be, if your end game is to make money from your community all that will count in the end is their willingness to open their wallets and pay for content, services or other perks. More on that in part two.
I want to close this post with the welcome video from Subbable as it actually explains quite well why there is no big interest from advertisers in the education market and why you need to build a dedicated audience that cares about you and your content.